On a humid Friday afternoon, a room in Jhajjar’s Bal Bhawan is overflowing with a variety of goods, including blankets, biscuits, dictionaries, and items of clothing in different colours, packed in cartons, stacked in cupboards, or simply piled up on a table. In the coming days, these goods will be sorted and loaded onto a truck, to begin their journey to Kerala, where they will be distributed among those affected by the recent floods.
Deputy Commissioner of Jhajjar Sonal Goel says this will be the fifth such consignment of goods, donated by residents of the district, to depart from Jhajjar in the last fortnight.
Apart from the materials donated in kind, residents and various organisations and institutions in the district have given Rs 61.12 lakh to the Kerala Relief Fund, in addition to the Rs 12.65 lakh that is yet to be transferred.
“This is a significant amount of money, especially as the district has a population of around 11 lakh, most of which is rural,” says Goel. “The money came from various sources, including government employees, who were asked to give at least one day’s pay. However, what is heartening is that the largest amount has come from schools in Jhajjar, with students collecting money from teachers, parents and other acquaintances.”
NGOs, private individuals, and various panchayats have also contributed with money.
The huge response is partly the result of an initiative launched by the district administration in January 2018 called ‘Saanjhi Madad’, under which donations are collected in kind from residents of the district through the year. These are then directed towards the needy on a fortnightly, and sometimes even weekly, basis. The first consignment that was dispatched to Kerala, on August 18, came from the stock already collected through this initiative.
“We had some items that had already been donated. This time we decided to direct these to Kerala. After that, we began a campaign to collect more goods and also invited financial donations from residents, opening an account specifically for this purpose,” says Goel.
Messages were also circulated on WhatsApp and other social media, seeking help for Kerala, and asking people to contribute generously.
Altogether four consignments of goods, estimated to be worth around Rs 10 lakh, have been sent — the first through the Supreme Court Bar Association and the rest through Kerala House. The goods dispatched include 124 boxes of biscuits, 125 kg of rice, 504 packets of Kurkure, 54 kg of rusk, 275 pairs of trousers and shirts, 250 pairs of salwar-kameez, 100 pairs of children’s clothes, 11 saris, 400 pairs of shoes, slippers and sandals, and 5,000 pairs of flip-flops.
Acknowledging Jhajjar’s, and Haryana’s, efforts, Resident Commissioner, Kerala House, Puneet Kumar said, “In the last 13 days, we have got around 1,425 tonnes of goods from various sources. Among the neighbouring states, Punjab and Haryana have made the highest contribution, and deputy commissioners in Haryana have contributed immensely. I would like to express thanks on behalf of the government of Kerala to Haryana.”